Meet ForcePhone, which offers a new way to make any mobile device pressure sensitive, like squeezing your device to make a call – to bring force touch display technology, that actually debuted with Apple’s iPhone 6s to any smartphone. It all happened and developed by a team from the University of Michigan. Have developed a Batman-inspired software that allows users to command their smartphones with sense force or pressure on its screen or body, are the same sort of force-sensitive capabilities found on Apple’s flagship. The researchers used ultrasonic waves to replicate the effects of 3D Touch without the need for a special screen technology. Dubbed ForcePhone.
The software leverages two features that literally every smartphone has — a microphone and a speaker and that’s what a few OEM device manufacturers have managed though. It causes the phone to continually emit an 1.8kHz buzz, which is of course too high for the human ear to detect and a lot more for the phone’s microphone to detect. If the users presses a finger against the screen, the pitch changes slightly. Pressing harder causes the pitch to shift further, which the mic picks up and translates into commands for the software. Using that, its users would conceivably be able to dial their phones or navigate through menus simply by squeezing their screens in different patterns.
“You do not need a special screen or built-in sensors to do this. Now this functionality can be released on any phone,” said Kang Shin, professor of computer science in electrical engineering.
“We have augmented the user interface without requiring any special built-in sensors. ForcePhone increases the vocabulary between the phone and the user,” Shin added.
Created system with Yu-Chin Tung, a doctoral student in the same department. Software, that could also enable users to push a bit harder on a screen button to unlock a menu or additional options, similar to the right-click option with a mouse. It is beyond the spectrum of frequencies detectable by the human ear, but can be picked up by the phone’s mic.
This is how it works:
“Having expensive and bulky sensors installed into smartphones can solve every problem we have solved, but the added cost and laborious installation prevent phone manufacturers from doing it,” University of Michigan doctoral student Yu-Chih Tung said in a statement. “Our sound-based solution can fill this gap, providing the functionality without making any hardware modification. Everything is just software.”
The ForcePhone system isn’t quite ready or prime time release or public consumption just yet. However, its investors will demo the ForcePhone June 27-29 in Singapore at MobiSys 2016.